What Is a Hydrotherapy Pool?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A hydrotherapy pool is a swimming pool used primarily to treat illness, help with physical therapy, or provide other beneficial treatments to users. There are many types of hydrotherapy treatments, all using the properties of water to benefit clients in someway. A therapy pool can be anything from an icy plunge to a jetted massage tub, depending on the type of treatment offered.

Hydrotherapy goes back as far as the Romans, who constructed bath houses on the site of hot springs.
Hydrotherapy goes back as far as the Romans, who constructed bath houses on the site of hot springs.

The idea of a hydrotherapy pool is an ancient one; many ancient cultures used ritual and therapy-enhanced bathing as an attempt to cure or treat illness. One of the great historic centers of hydrotherapy is at the pools of Bath, England, a former Roman settlement that has used the natural mineral springs under the town to provide hydrotherapy services for since the first century, AD. The pools at Bath included a series of cold to hot pools called the frigidarium, tepidarium, and calderium, that were meant to cure disease and invigorate the weary by alternate exposure to extreme temperature changes.

Spas and whirlpools are two contemporary examples of a hydrotherapy pool.
Spas and whirlpools are two contemporary examples of a hydrotherapy pool.

One type of hydrotherapy pool common to the modern world is the spa or whirlpool. These small pools use heated water and targeted jets of water to help provide relaxation as well as relief from joint or musculature problems. Spas and whirlpools are frequently found at health spas, gyms, hotels, and even in home versions. They generally sit between one and four people, though much larger versions also exist.

Hot tubs can help with physical therapy.
Hot tubs can help with physical therapy.

A therapy pool can be used as a part of physical recovery or treatment of an injury. Since moving underwater puts less stress and impact on the joints and tendons while still providing strength-building resistance, many people incorporate a pool into physical therapy. Some pools even have built in underwater treadmills to allow people to slowly regain running or walking strength.

Hydrotherapy exercises are often used in conjunction with traditional physical therapy.
Hydrotherapy exercises are often used in conjunction with traditional physical therapy.

Hydrotherapy pools often have built-in features that aid in underwater massage. Some single-occupant pools include a massage table that can be lowered into the pool from above, to help less mobile users enter the water. A massage-based hydrotherapy pool may also have easily adjustable temperature control and muscle specific jets that can help a masseuse enhance an under water massage.

A hydrotherapy pool can be used as a part of physical recovery or treatment of an injury.
A hydrotherapy pool can be used as a part of physical recovery or treatment of an injury.

Humans do not have the monopoly on the hydrotherapy concept. Some pet spas and animal training facilities offer therapy pools for dogs that provide many of the same benefits as human versions. In a doggie hydrotherapy pool, dogs can learn to swim as well as recover from injuries to the joints and bones. Proponents of canine hydrotherapy say the treatment helps improve range of motion and strength after injury without the impact of walking or running.

Hydrotherapy may be used to treat sore, strained muscles.
Hydrotherapy may be used to treat sore, strained muscles.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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